I’ve remembered I’m a blogger……..AGAIN!!

Well folks……….I’m Back!!!! Thought it was time I wrote something seeing as I’m off university for the summer……… Okay I have like a month left!!!

I’ve had a pretty busy start too 2017 and each month seems to be filled with adventures and amazing opportunities. Over the next few blogs I will aim to summarise January to August 2017 as consisely as I can

But here are a few personal highlights for me

  • I met Max for the 6th, 7th and 8th time
  • I met Gemma for the first time
  • I met Danny Boy twice 
  • Met two little people for the first time – Cameron and Ethan
  • I went too London two weekends in a row
  • I met my Twitter friends Heather and Brittany
  • I got prizes in two The Band fans competitions
  • I passed my Open Uni course with a A!!!!! In my final project
  • I have a BA Open Degree
  • Was on local news!!!!!
  • Had my first official house guest – Nikki 
  • Adventured too Swansea 

Okay okay…..not highlights as such but an overview of what I’ve done the last eight months…..
So over the next two blogs (maybe more) I will explain a little more about the above highlights and lots of other amazing things to happen. After these summary ones I will blog more about dyspraxia and my life in general. So please keep reading my blogs…………….I may, I may do a Vlog in the future (Eeek!, I’ve been watching a lot of Carrie Hope Fletcher and Disney Matt!!) 
Thanks 
Amy πŸ’œ

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My most important adventure! – Showing the ABILITY within the disABILITY!!

It’s Monday afternoon and I’m sitting at Carlisle train station with a Salted Caramel Latte and writing this blog waiting for my train.I’m off to Edinburgh today for the RI World Congress on Disability. Over 1,000 experts in Disability come together from all across the world with the aim of creating a more inclusive world  and accessible for all.  Over three days there are workshops, presentations, speeches, fringe events from across the looking at all aspects that relate to the lives of Disabled people. 

Day one focuses on Employment, Education and Skills which looks at how polices can be put into practice to allow people with disabilities to access education, employment and training. This is what The Usual Place does, I’m so looking forward to this day and to see what I can learn from other countries while at the same time spreading the word about The Usual Place.

The focus of day two looks at how it is best to support people with disabilities to live independently through policies and practical information. Also building on from the previous day with sessions on UK employment . Well this is what I do everyday, I adapt to what I do everyday to fit around my dyspraxia and I work to be able to do this. 

And day three looks at how we can take ideas from around the world to help us make the world more accessible and inclusive for everyone. Well in theory is the conclusion of the whole Congress and the ultimate aim to happen in this world.

Now my feelings are mixed, I’m excited but nervous too. It does help that Sue and Ged will be there too which gives me some comfort. 

Look out for blog updates throughout the week and when I come home plus my usual facebook and Twitter updates too!

Twitter -@XxAmyxPopxX

Volunteering – An amazing journey of discovery!

To make the end of Volnteers week I wrote this blog for Strong Young Minds, one of the websites I write my blogs for. So I thought I’d share it with you all. Please feel free to  ask me any questions 😊

I am writing this as Dumfries and Galloway’s Third Sector Young Volunteer and Volunteer of the Year which is so amazing and I still can’t quite believe it.  
But I will take you back to a shy, quiet, unconfident 12 year old Amy who didn’t know quite where she fitted in , in this world! At times didn’t even want to be here and frequently missed school and didn’t have that many friends.
It all changed one evening when my Dad took me to youth group where one of his friends was a youth worked at. From being there as young person I began volunteering at there youth groups for primary school pupils and also a project during the summer holiday.  

It was while I was there as young person I met Tracey who was a youth worker with the local councils Youth Issues Unit. I got involved in both local and national youth projects including YouthBank, Inspector8 and National Conversation and being part of our presentation to COSLA. I won the Ian McAlister bursary award, a local award for my commitment to the voluntary sector. I also won a Young Quality Scot Award for my involvement in our projects and as a peer mentor. By July 2010 I had done over 500 hours voluntary work from starting there in 2005.

In 2011 I attended an event for young disabled people locally to talk about what mattered to us, organised by DG Voice – the Voice of disabled people in my local area. I met Heather who was the Development manager and I was soon welcomed into the organisation and made a director in 2012. Through the years I have been involved in projects with employability, schools and even was a speaker at our conference on End of Life Matters. My main purpose of being a director was to make the organisation more youth friendly and get more young people involved. In fact my role this summer is to look at how we use social media and how we can use it to benefit us more

What you might not realise is that in these years I was volunteering I was also looking after my Dad who had cancer. From 2003 to his passing in 2010 he had three types of cancer and without his wife and my mum there I was the main carer. Volunteering was a way for me to escape from caring and too me but more importantly to find the person I should be. The evening of the presentation of my Ian McAlister bursary will always mean something very special to me as it was the last proper picture of me and my dad.

It was from the feedback of the Youth Matters conference that the foundations of Inspired Communities Enterprise Trust came from. The purpose of ICET is to give young people with additional support needs training and employment opportunities in hospitality and retail. U have been involved right from the start from us getting funding, learning from other cafes, finding the building, finding our builder, all the legal aspects, spreading the word around the community to finally getting the keys almost a year ago. I have been chair of board of directors for just over a year now, it’s a big learning opportunity for me and can be challenging but with my fellow directors and staff team supporting me I know I can do it. Through the wonderful Usual Place – the cafΓ© where ICET is based – I’ve been able to meet MSPs, MPs, council leaders, professionals and even the First Minister.

Some would ask why I volunteer when I don’t get paid for it. But for me the benefits are more than that. It’s given me such a confidence boost and created so many amazing experiences. It’s made me proud to have dyspraxia and to show the world that just because I have a disability don’t ever underestimate me. I’ve met so many amazing people on this journey from all the youth workers, other young people, professionals and those at higher levels. I’ve truly been able to spread my wings and its influenced every part of my life. Volunteering has always been there for me through my darkest times of my life and has given me something to focus on.

It’s now 2016 and I’m 24 I have been volunteering for over 10 years now. I am confident in who I am. Looking forward to what the future will bring for my career with the knowledge that volunteering has made me stronger.

So if your thinking about volunteering….then DO it!

Being Chair of The Usual Place Board of Directors

I am in my second year as Chair of the Board of Directors of Inspired Communities Trust who are behind The Usual Place Cafe in Dumfries. We are an non for profit distributing social enterprise company. Our aim is too provide training and employment for young people with additional support needs. The board of directors govern the organisation but we are very involved as volunteers in the cafe.

However being chair means I never know what I’m going to be doing next so far I have 

  • Officially opened the building with a speech from the heart
  • Met with MSPs, MPs, Councillors and Council Leaders from Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland 
  • Spoke to our stakeholders group
  • Spoke to all the visitors we have

No week is ever the same as being chair.

On Tuesday I had a very busy day. I started by helping one of our trainees through their REHIS food hygiene qualification which was enjoyable for me and teaching is a career I want to go into. Then along with Claire our volunteer lead I hosted a group from Finland who were here with a local organisation LEADER who were here to learn about how youth organisations in Dumfries and Galloway engage with our young people. I talked about the journey to get to where we are now and the reasons behind why the Usual Place was born. Then Claire talked about the work we do with our young people and how we work we our trainees. 

It’s always daunting for me to speak to groups that we have in the building but it’s also a pleasure to share our story with other groups. I somewhere in my mind have all the information about the Usual Place and it just comes too the front of my mind. It comes from the heart when I speak about The Usual Place,it’s where I feel at home and can truly be myself. 

In the evening I chaired the Team Meeting. The skill of chairing the meeting is still relatively new to me but I do enjoy the challenge of it. I have been told I’m very good at keeping it focused on what we need too discuss…maybe that’s because I didn’t want to miss my train or maybe it’s just my organisational skills. Next skill to move onto is taking notes of a meeting

I was back in at The Usual Place on Wednesday and as I was waiting for two very special visitors to arrive I started writing this blog.We have Kezia Dugdale, leader of Scottish Labour and Nicola Sturgeon leader of SNP visiting us. 

So the time came to meet Kezia and too say I was nervous was an understatement but as soon as she spoke to me I felt at ease. I introduced her to members of the team and then we went into one of the training rooms to have a conversation. Myself, Callum, Dean, William and Heather all talked about The Usual Place and what it meant to us. Kezia was really interested to listen to what we have achieved in our wonderful building and how we have achieved it. She was also interested in my personal story which too me is key as it showed she valued me being there. After the meeting it was photo opportunities , getting used too that now. Then the chat turned more informal during lunch and I hope to keep in touch with Kezia 

And breatheeeeee it’s time for lunch and relaxing before Nicola this afternoon 

First came in Joan McAlphine, a familiar face to the Usual Place. I then joined Joan outside with Callum, Amy D and Heather to welcome Nicola Sturgeon to our wonderful cafe. Although at the time didn’t realise the camera was filming for border news! So we started our visit with a guided tour of the building, including the stunning cafe space, kitchen, meeting rooms and our very fancy changing places toilet. I’ve been told that Nicola was totally engaged in what I was saying when I was doing my tour which is lovely to hear and very reassuring. As both me and Amy Duffy have met her we found it very easy to talk to her.  After tour it was photo time again! Amy had great fun showing Nicola the coffee machine, it was so lovely too see her smiling with so much joy and pride πŸ™‚ We took the most of the sunny day too have pictures outside before saying goodbye with a hug.

So it’s not everyday that you meet two leaders of political parties but then again it’s not everyone that is chair of an organisation or is priveldged enough to be involved in such a wonderful place. 

I think over the last two days I have grown in a lot more confidence and have more belief in myself. These very influence people really do want too hear my story and the story of The Usual Place.

So I’m looking forward to whatever it brings next as Chair…..

I am also shortlisted for Young Volunteer Award  at the Third Sector local awards πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 

That time I travelled too Cardiff too see Max….

It’s currently 5.36AM and I’m starting this before getting ready too leave the house for my journey to Cardiff. It’s still dark outside. I just can’t wait to get too Carlisle and get on my first main train! 

Well that’s me done my first train – it’s an easy one just Annan to Carlisle. Now I’m chilling with a Gingerbread Latte waiting for my first main train from Carlisle to Crewe. I’ve a reserved seat so that’s great. It’s just getting on it now πŸ™‚ 

Well there were no distasters on the train journey too get from Carlisle to Crewe and then Crewe to Cardiff. 

I arrived in Cardiff around 1.40pm and was greeted by the rain – just like being at home! So following my instructions I navigated my way to my hotel and checked in… I had made it too Cardiff, happy days πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 

I chilled , got ready and had some food before heading out too meet Hannah. I arrived at the Wales Millenium Centre and took some tourist shots including an attempt at as selfie with the building. Then Hannah arrived we had a catch up as we hadn’t seen each other since September. 

   
 It was time to take our seats. We got good seats at the raised stalls at the back with good view of whole stage though I had too dodge the head of person in front of me a few times. 

The show started and I was just waiting for Max to appear. He played to roles – Charlie a young soldier who we find out is only 16 after he lied about his age and Private Brandt who was in the German Army still a young soldier. Playing two characters or meant Max was in most scenes from the beginning too end, always a bonus. We got to hear his lovely singing voice which is always a pleasure. In this production Max worked alongside his former Waterloo Road Co Star Rebecca Craven. In Only the Brave Becky plays Jenny a young girl playing her part in the war effort back home. But we didn’t expect that Max and Beckys characters would have a scene together and 😘😘😘

I laughed, I cried….a lot and said Awww countless times. It was a truly awesome production and very uplifting. I thought about my Granny during it who would have been 15 when the event happened. There was a standing ovation at the end!!! 

After it finished it was mission find Max….not long after he appreared. Even though he had to rush off he had photographs with us and spoke to us about a few things. Said thank you for us for coming to see the show πŸ™‚ I did actually cry in front of him, the emotion of thinking about Granny, the show itself and seeing him after so long just got too me and I couldn’t hold it in. Though in typical Max style he was so sweet about. So we gave him his presents – a Chelsea FC mug, keyring and a bar of tablet from me πŸ™‚ Then it was the final hugs goodbye…………

  
Then we went too meet Becky. We had hugs, pictures and she singed my programme and old school tie. Off course my height was conversation subject,lol πŸ™‚ 

   
    
    
 Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! 

I got back to my hotel room and burst into tears – Thanks to Emily P, Rachel and Matthew for mesaging me πŸ™‚ I then got organised for coming home and was just about to put my iPad down when I got s notification…. @MaxBowden mentioned you……..He tweeted us with a picture of the Chelsea mug and said “u guys are the best thank u so much. And thank you for coming! X X” After what felt like forever I replied back too him. 

  
It may have been a short and sweet visit to seeing Max and Becky but it was most definitely worth the travel for the time they did spend with us and the tweets. 
So my next adventure is in April too go a dyspraxia foundation meeting and too meet my Twitter friend Nikki. But hopefully  there will be another instalment of Team Max soon πŸ™‚ 
Amy πŸ’œ

I’ve rembered I have a BLOG, ha!Β 

Hello there……have you missed me??? It’s been around two months since my last post. I’ve just been caught up with work, uni work, voluntary work to write blogs. Also the very sudden passing of my dear Granny at end of February. 

I’m not saying I’m back yet…….but I will try to start and write some more blogs. I do really enjoy writing my blogs. 

In just over a weeks time I’ll be off to Cardiff too see Max in a musical called Only the Brave along with my bestie Hannah. I totally can’t wait it’s been so long since I saw either of them. It’s going t be one long journey…..plenty of time for blog writing me thinks πŸ˜‰

Then in April I’m off to Preston and Manchester. In Manchester to go a Dyspraxia Foundation Conference which is so exciting to finally talk to people my age who have Dyspraxia. In Preston I’ll be finally be meeting Nikki, she is one of my longest standing Twitter friends. We’ve been friends for two years now and I totally can’t wait too finally meet her. 

So you may see a blog about my adventures over the coming months 😊

I hope to be back with my insights into Dyspraxia blogs in the summer when I’ve finished uni for the summer. 

So it’s goodbye from me for now 
Amz πŸ’œ

Mrs Edna Wright(Gracie) -My MumΒ 

As most people are celebrating the beginning of the new year, I do too but without the two most important people in my life – my mum and dad! January marks the last memories I have off mum as she died at 10.30am on 19th January 2000. 

It’s amazing what I can remember from being born to the age of eight even now but they are mainly happy memories that make me smile. Some however are not happy…..

Millennium – It’s one in a lifetime opportunity to be alive when a millennium occurs. We were a happy family unit of four (mum, dad, me and my step brother Fraser) I remember the table being moved into the living room from the kitchen and on the table was confetti with 2000 on it. Think we had ham for tea too….we had no idea what would follow. 

18th January 2000 – Mum was unwell she had been for a few days but we thought it was the usual winter cold. I came home from school and did homework with mum including my extra spelling practice she liked to do with me. After that mum decided to have an early night but I said I’d come through before I went to bed….nothing can prepare an eight year old for what they saw(I won’t go into detail) I remember my dad called my granny first and then the ambulance. The ambulance came and then got started helping mum I want to say there was hope but I could see in my dads eyes maybe this wasn’t the case. So my dad went to hospital with mum in the ambulance and I went to my granny and papa’s house. 

19th January 2000 – I came into the living room at my granny’s and my dad was there. He said there is something I need to tell you. I can’t remember his exact words but he told me mum was up in heaven. After that my memory is hazy I suppose I just want to forget the next few months that followed…….bullying and family arguments with me in the middle. 

By the time I reached end of primary six so I was ten years old me and Dad became our own little team working together. I was always a Daddy’s girl from when I was born as my Mum was too scared to bath me of pick me up. Nothing or no one was going too get inbeweteen me and my Dad. As he said “right my name, right my nature” 

It’s taken me a lot of years just to be able to say this too myself and then too others. So posting this on my blog is a really big deal! 

Happy memories are off course there too : making my packed lunch box, helping me with school work, coming into school when I got my pupil of month award, holidays to Blackpool and Scarborgh, Annan Riding of the Marches, last holiday to Strathcylde and Pitlochry,going to see her at work at Victoria Wine….. Plus many more

If anyone has any questions or wants any help if you are going through something similar then please don’t hesitate to contact me on here or Twitter @XxAmyxPopxX
Amy πŸ’œ